There’s no doubt the United States is in a depression as COVID-19 ravages the economy and triggers millions of job losses, according to a former U.S. ambassador to Canada.

“Let’s just be blunt with everybody: We are in a depression,” Bruce Heyman told BNN Bloomberg’s Catherine Murray Wednesday, while pointing to “depression-esque” unemployment and GDP numbers in the United States. 

“The question is: How long are we going to be there? Is this a temporary stop for just a quarter, or two or three – and then we’re going to bounce right back out of it? Or is this going to be a longer, more difficult slog?

Heyman, who built his career in various high-ranking positions at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., believes many of the jobs lost during the pandemic will be permanent. Employers in the U.S. shed 20.5 million positions in April alone, and the latest U.S. jobless report shows that more than two million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week.   

“I would tell you that in all my experience in business, businesses are fast to fire, and slow to hire,” Heyman said.

“And I think although 80 per cent of all of these people laid off think they’re coming back to work right away and it’s just a furlough, I’m skeptical of that,” he added. “I’m concerned this is going to have a longer lasting impact on the economy.”